Called to Serve

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Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013--Week 73

Hello family :)

So, this week was pretty awesome.  Actually, it was the happiest week of my mission.  I'm so grateful that I had this oportunity to stay here in Chahuites these transfers.  The baptism we had Saturday was so amazing.  We tried to plan it out really well so that it would be a good experience for Imara and her kids, and our efforts in that respect really paid off.  I can´t really explain how prepared this family was. Seriously the experience of teaching and baptizing them was the dream of any missionary. I´ll give a few examples. First, the dad of the family is very Catholic (he´s not quite on board yet, we´re working on that), and he was kind of harassing Owen (who is 10) when we weren´t there (they told us about this afterwards) about how he shouldn´t be getting baptized again since he got baptized as a baby. And that the Catholic Church was the first church and all the other churches are just knock-offs of it. And Owen answers him (and we didn´t even spend that much time teaching them about the Great Apostasy) "No, the Church of Jesus Christ was lost when the apostles died, but God restored His Church again when he talked with Joseph Smith.  I need to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ."  WOW.  He´s 10. And has been learning about the Gospel for 3 weeks.  He´s going to be an amazing missionary. Second example.  Yesterday they were confirmed.  The branch has a temple trip this week, so Imara wanted to go, and she was interviewed by the branch president and everything.  And then our Gospel Principles class was on the covenant people of the Lord. And we talked about covenants. And a little bit about the Abrahamic covenant. And she understood it all. She made a comment about how as we accept the Gospel it blesses future generations, just like God promised to Abraham.  That´s pretty profound understanding by someone who had been baptized one day earlier.  So then in the night we went to see them and teach them a little bit about the temple, and when they go to the temple Saturday, they´re already going to bring family names to do the baptisms for them!  I haven´t even done that after 8 years of being able to do baptisms in the temple! I'm so so grateful for the oportunity that I had to teach this family.  We´ll continue working with the dad, because we know that Heavenly Father wants them to be an eternal family and that He´s preparing the way for that to happen.  I love this family so much.  

I´m also extremely grateful that because of the choice Grandma and Grandpa made to be baptized years ago, my life is completely different than what it would be if they hadn´t done so. And that as a consequence I was able to share that happiness with another family by whom generations will be blessed (just like Imara said) in the same way.  

That´s about all for this week.  We´ve still got a lot of work to do :) I loved hearing about the vacations and EFY, lax camp, and all the rest.  I love you all so much!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is the picture of the baptism of Imara (the mom), Owen (the son), and Britney (the daugher).  The other couple in the picture are the members of the church who gave us the referral and are really the reason that we had the baptism.  Their baptismal service was awesome--more than 30 people came and more than half of them were non-members that Imara had invited.  She´s a teacher and is very well known here in Chahuites so she´s going to be a huge help in finding new investigators.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 22, 2013--Week 72

Hello everyone!

So, I just got finished eating cow stomach--for the second time in my entire misiĆ³n (I´ve been told I´m very lucky to have only eaten it twice).  It wasn´t actually that bad.  The first time it was horrible.  But this time I kind of liked I wouldn´t ask for it in a restaurant or anything but I wasn´t choking it down either. 

Anyway, apart from that, this has been a pretty awesome week.  Capped off with the cambios!  I´m staying here in Chahuites!  And so is Elder Reyes.  So, we both get to be here for the baptism of our super awesome family that we´re teaching this Saturday!  Woohoo!!!  We´re psyched.  Things are going very, very well here.  We don´t actually have that many investigators right now, but the members are giving us a lot of referrals.  And member referrals are like 1000000000000000000x´s better than knocking doors.  Seriously.  So much easier.  And so much more successful.  Anyway, the lady we´re going to baptize this week is named Imara.  And her kids that are going to get baptized are Owen and Brittney (They were born in the US.  Those aren´t normal Mexican names).  And they´re super awesome.  I thought this whole week that I was going to get changed and that I wasn´t going to get to see their baptism, but it looks like the Lord want´s me to stay here :) Which is fine with me.  I love Chahuites!  It´s the ugliest, smelliest, most horrible little town in the world that I love completely. :) Anyway, Imara is a teacher, and a lot of people know her here (like the entire town), so we´re expecting a pretty good turnout at her baptism and we´re hoping to find quite a few new investigators because of that.  So this is basically how the work of salvation is going down here:  The members give us references.  Then we teach them.  Then they get baptized.  Then those new members give us references.  Then we teach them.  Then they get baptized.  It´s like a domino effect.  And it´s wonderful. :) One of the sisters that we baptized last month is a perfect example of that.  She gave us 2 referrals and went with us to meet them and teach the lesson with us (she also got called 2 weeks ago as the secretary in the RS presidency and she went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead).  So, we´re pretty happy around here.  And the best part is that we get to stay here :) and keep helping this branch to grow.  Since we set the goal for 100 people attending in the first week of August, we went from like 50-60 per week to 72 this past Sunday.  We´ll see how things are the first week of August. :)  Anyway, sorry this is kind of rushed, but I already have to go.

Just know that this work is incredible.  It´s the most important work on this Earth.  We have to be involved in it.  We can only reach salvation ourselves if we´re doing everything we can to bring other people with us.

Have a great week, everyone!  I love you all very much.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013--Week 71

Hello everyone!  

This has been an AWESOME week!  First of all, my comp and I both got really sick!  But not at the same time.  Different days.  So we took turns being the one dying in bed and the one being bored out of his mind with nothing productive to do after already having read the scriptures for like 5 hours.  Seriously I read like all of 2 Nephi until Mosiah.  And I read all of Chapter 3 in Preach My Gospel.  And on Friday we did divisions with our district leader, Elder Stucki, who was also sick, so he could do the baptismal interview.  I was still sick at that point, so basically we left to work and taught one lesson, did the baptismal interview and then kept trying to work, but we ended up in the house eating saltine crackers and drinking electrolytes because it was just not working out.  So, it was a sick week (in a very literal way, although reading it like slang works too because it was an awesome week).

But that´s not the awesome part… The awesome part is that by Saturday we were both fine, and we had our baptism (see picture attached)!  And as if that weren´t enough to make an awesome week, Sunday was even better!  The Relief Society president here is awesome (and her husband, who is the branch 2st councilor).  Seriously they´re like my model for what I want my family to be like in like 10 years.  Anyway, she’s been bringing a friend and her kids to church for a couple of weeks.  Her friend is a teacher and here the schools just got out for their summer vacation, so she´s been super busy with end of the year stuff and we haven´t been able to talk with her and her kids.  So, yesterday we finally got to talk to her with her kids (and two other kids that she brought with her to church, her niece and her neighbor).  Pretty much the first thing that her 9-year old daughter said was "I already want to get baptized!"  And then all of the other kids were like "ME TOO! ME TOO!"  And we were like "Can you wait two weeks so that we can teach you what you need to know so that you can pass the baptism interview?"  And they were like, "That´s a long time..." but of course their mom told them to wait two weeks (oh and she wants to get baptized too). So. Yeah. That´s awesome! On the 27th we´re going to have five baptisms.  If they change me next week I am not going to be a happy camper.  But, if that happens of course I´ll do what the Lord wants me to and I´ll leave very happy knowing that this family is going to be baptized. :)

That´s about all I have to report!  I´ve never been so happy about the progress I´ve seen in any one of my areas before.  So, things are going pretty great.  I love you all very, very much!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

The picture above and below are of our chapel.  They take care of the grass a lot.  Grass like this basically does not exist here in normal places (it´s very very VERY rare for someone to have grass in their yard).  So, this is definitely the prettiest church in all of Chahuites and we love our building.  All of the other churches are made of stuff like concrete block.

I tried to get an action shot of what we do every day, but it didn´t really work out that well.  Unfortunately my arm doesn´t stretch any further and you can just see part of me and the pamphlet we were using and the investigator.  We were teaching the word of wisdom here to a lady who is actually the mom of one of my comp´s aunts.
It´s a small world down here.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8, 2013--Week 70

Hello everyone!

Is it really Monday again?  These weeks are starting to pass by really, really quickly... Well, this past week we went to Tuxta for our monthly Council of Zone Leaders.  And it was pretty awesome.  We broke down the Work of Salvation broadcast and talked about its implications for us and how we should be working with our units.  So this week here in Chahuites we started our branch mission plan.  Right now, we have about 60-70 people that come to church every week.  We set the goal last night to have 100 people attending every week.  So, that´s a pretty drastic change for so short a period of time, but the members committed to making it happen, and of course we as missionaries are here to back them up every step of the way.  So, I´ll be letting you know how that goes in about a month (assuming they don´t change me when we have changes here in two weeks of course.  Side note: If they don´t change me then I will have been here in Chahuites longer than any other area). 

Apart from that we´re going to be having at least one baptism this Saturday.  We may have one Friday as well--we´re not sure yet.  Unfortunately, after these baptisms, we are going to be completely without investigators that have baptismal dates.  But that´s ok! There are some families in the branch (like the one in the picture below--he´s the 2nd Councilor in the Branch Presidency and she´s the Relief Society President and they are AWESOME) that are working hard and already have people for us to teach.  So, we will definitely not be spending too much time without more baptisms.  We´re happy, the members are happy, and we´re all working together. :)  That produces some pretty amazing results.  

So, that´s about it this week!  I love you all. :) Enjoy work and your summer vacations!

Con mucho amor, 
Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is our zone this change. :) We took this photo at our zone training that we
 gave this past Wednesday.

This is our branch council.  Included we have (more or less from left to right) the YW Pres, Primary Pres, son of the Branch President, RS Pres and her husband (the 2nd councilor in the branch presidency), the YSA Rep and his wife, the branch secretary, the YM Pres, the Branch President, the EQ Pres, the Ward Mission Leader,
 and the missionaries. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

July1, 2013--Week 69

Dear Family,

So, since I didn´t have time to write last week, I want to start off by talking about the Work of Salvation broadcast. We watched it here and it was such an incredible experience (and I got to watch it in English :D). The only thing that I really like much any more about the Gospel in English is listening to the general authorities. I don´t know if you guys all saw all of it yet, but if you haven´t, I invite and implore you to please do so. It completely reiterated what we´ve been trying to teach the members here since last October. Sometimes as members of the Church we have the idea that missionary work is for the missionaries and we´re there to help every once in a while (I definitely thought that before my mission). The broadcast made it very clear that missionary work is for every member of the Church. The missionaries are the ones that are there to help. So, that was cool.  We´ve seen a lot of change in the members of our branch since the broadcast. Tuesday, we went to the house of one sister in the ward.  And she had her grandson there and had been talking to him about the Gospel. And now they want to get baptized. Also, one of the daughters of that sister (who we´ve been teaching for a while) also decided to be baptized as a result of the fact that her nephew is now going to get baptized. So, they´re going to be baptized the 13th.  All the rest of the members put themselves the batteries (that´s what we say in Spanish, I don´t remember the appropriate and equivalent expression in English) and started working. We had branch conference this Sunday and 15 investigators came. Only 5 of them were even in part because of us. Neither my companion nor I had ever had more than 10 before. So, we have a LOT of new investigators and a lot of work to do.   

I testify that God is a living God. He directs this Church and this Work. Miracles have not ceased. I am so incredibly grateful to be a missionary in this crucial time in which the Lord is hastening His Work. I invite each one of you to redouble your efforts to spread the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your capacity to help others to have the light of the Gospel in their lives is just as great if not greater than that of us as missionaries. Our efforts to share the Gospel are a direct measure of our love for the Lord and for others. It may not always be an easy thing to do, but Lord gives us the strength to do so as we rely on Him. As Christ once said "Fear not, only believe." Be a light. Help others receive the Gospel and the sacred ordinances of baptism and confirmation so that they have the direction and knowledge and actions that lead to salvation. "After all that has been said the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel."

I love you all very much. I want you all to know how happy I am. The promise that was made to me in my mission call that greater blessings and more happiness than I had yet experienced awaited me as I served among God´s children is being fulfilled. There is no greater happiness than helping others receive such happiness. I invite you ALL to try it. :) If you love Him, feed His sheep. You´ll be glad you did.

Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl